The Now & Not Yet

night-1It rained much of the day.  It blew and blustered and crackled and poured. I blustered with it just a bit.

Then Jesus wrote His love in storm clouds sprawled across a sunset sky.

Some of you might remember how my former dentist electrified my back teeth and the saga that unfolded thereafter.  I don’t talk about it much any more. But the incident fried my facial nerve and threw me into “permanent” nerve damage resulting in ATN {atypical trigeminal neuralgia} of a variety there is no treatment for, surgical or otherwise.

But no condition in Jesus is ever permanent and impossibility is simply a canvas for the miraculous.

Until that miraculous happens, I’m daily trusting Him through what many medical professionals consider “the most severe form of chronic pain known in medical practice.” Imagine migraine meets cluster headache meets 3-4 teeth abscessing meet you just scalded your mouth with way too hot coffee and they all throw a party on one side of your face at the same time.

Early on in trying to find answers I had one doctor tell me that pain isn’t real, it is just an electrical impulse to the brain.  Right.  What NOT to say to a patient hurting.  Some things can be accurate factually but be far from true, kind or helpful.

I’m not going to wax poetic about all the great life lessons I’m learning because the brave, bold truth is it is simply a lesson in my own frailty.  Unless God gives me grace and strength in inordinate amounts, I am not able to get much done some days.  I just limped through two of them.

We live in fallen world and dentists who make mistakes and then refuse to correct them are part of the mess every single one of us walk through each and every day.

But I refuse to be defined by what should and sometimes does disable.

God’s Kingdom is a now and a not yet reality.  And in between the now and the not yet lies the place of mystery. 

Why did one child I prayed for in Africa get instantly healed and the next die?

I. Don’t. Know.  Full stop.

But this I do know:

If I don’t trust Jesus in the mystery, I limit the display of His majesty.  I must be willing to trust Him with what I do not understand without turning it into a commentary on His character or a measuring line for my faith. 

Faith and trust must happen in the places where we don’t see and we don’t understand or they happen not at all.

Early in my time in South Sudan, I had a visitor who told me the reason children on base were getting sick was because I lacked faith as a leader.  The same person told me that until I had enough faith to get my own creative miracle, I wouldn’t see anyone else get healed.  Ahem, another what not to say.  But this time it was not true or even factual.

Sweet Jesus. I’m so grateful He agreed with neither point and that I got to see many, many people healed and transformed.

The measure of our faith is not the tangible result  it produces but the ever-present reality of an always good, always there all-powerful God.

In my seven years working in Africa, the deaf heard and the blind saw and hospital wards emptied and villages got saved and food was multiplied and I buried children and I lost leaders to cancer and sickness and I am still deaf in my left ear and I got malaria again and again and yes it cost me my health.

God can restore it all in nanosecond.  However I don’t want my story to be God is good because He heals and restores.  My story spilled out in lines on a screen and shouted into cyberspace is God is good before any healing is seen, before any restoration is realized.

God is good regardless of what I see or don’t see.  I stake my life on His goodness.

Jesus died on a cross to secure for us healing and wholeness and all we will ever need and then He rose again to leave death an empty grave.

Because of the cross and the stone rolled away and His life laid down and my price fully paid, I refuse to be defined by that which disables and I refuse to define God by my present circumstance. 

I will not reduce my theology to the level of my experience if the level of my experience is less than the all of Who He is.

Healing is real. Restoration is real.  The miraculous is real. Revival is real. It is all for today.  It is for me and for you, for our streets and our cities and our nation. Every promise is Yes and Amen in Jesus.  The moments I choose by grace to trust in Him when I don’t understand, I give Him a gift that I can only give Him in between the now and the not yet of His Kingdom.

I wait in the in between watching Him paint the evening skies with a storm.

In what storm are you trusting Him to paint an ending full of beauty and grace?  Share your heart over in our brave Facebook community.